Mon, Nov 16, 2009
The Straits Times
$23m in Aussie scholarships for Asian students

Australia has unveiled an A$18 million (S$23 million) scholarship aimed at building a new generation of regional leaders.

The Australia Awards, as the initiative is called, aims to enhance Canberra's ties with its neighbours in Asia and to stay connected with the scholars that graduate from its institutions.

It will also consolidate the scholarships the country gives out under a single scheme.

The A$18 million will go to new scholarships for higher education that will be open to top students from Asia, starting next year.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the Australia Awards in his address to students of the National University of Singapore on Friday.

In his speech, he said that he believed the future of the world depended on a 'culture of dialogue and cooperation'.

Recipients will be selected by a new panel of people from the government, corporate and academic sectors.

Those chosen will be encouraged to maintain their links with Australia through a strong alumni plan.

The statement said Canberra spends A$200 million each year in scholarships. These support nearly 5,000 international students.

The announcement of the Australia Awards was welcomed by some Singaporean students who have studied in Australia.

TV producer Shamala Ganessaraj, 31, who graduated from Deakin University in Melbourne seven years ago, said the initiative should encourage institutions to build ties with their alumni.

'Unlike universities in Britain and America, Aussie universities don't really cultivate strong ties with their ex-students,' she said.

'Once you leave the university - that's it. You don't get to know who the fellow graduates are because they don't have strong overseas chapters.'

Ms Chevaun Chee, 31, a director with a research and training company, said that by consolidating the scholarships, it will be easier for aspiring students to find and evaluate those on offer.

She graduated from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 2000.

About 8,000 students from Singapore are pursuing higher education in Australia this year, according to government data.

Another 1,200 Singapore students are in other schools and vocational institutions.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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